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In my garage, and when it is parked around town, I lock my bike to a rack via a U-lock or at least a cable lock. How should I similarly secure my kayak? I realize that a determined thief can break most locks but let’s assume conventional bike locks are good enough to deter casual thieves.

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    In the extreme you also need to lock the rack to the value. I know of cases where they just took the whole rack with bikes on it. Rack has value also. – paparazzo Feb 19 '17 at 10:43
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Most solutions require threading one or two long lockable cables through some sort of “holes” in the kayak and onto the fixed rack. The locking cables can be elongated versions of standard bicycle cable locks. However, you may require a “python” cable lock, which allows the working end to be thin and to be tightened through the lock.

Kayaks can have a number of different things serving as “holes”:

  • A metal grab handle.
  • A large metal pad eye.
  • A scupper hole, if the kayak is a sit-on-top (SOT).
  • A drain hole, if it’s near the cockpit.
  • A seat attachment.

Other solutions exist when no such “holes” do:

  • A car steering wheel lock, locked across the cockpit and a cable lock around it.
  • Two cables, such as from lassosecuritycables.com, lassoed tightly over the bow and stern, around a rack, and then tightly to each other.
  • Two special reinforced locking tie-down straps, such as from kanulock.com, cinched down onto your rack. Such a strap combines a tie-down strap and a cable lock into a single unit.
  • A special lock from worldstoreyourboard.com attached to the "kayak accessory rail" found on some fishing kayaks.
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    The car steering wheel lock worked well for me, it will depend on cockpit size. Mine did not fit my cockpit but fit my largest hatch perfectly. – mmcc Aug 16 '18 at 1:35
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It is important to remember that acts of theft are often crimes of opportunity. Thieves like to take something not because they planned to steal it but because it was easy to take.

The previous answer suggests some great ideas for truly secure methods but simply running a bicycle cable lock through the loop of a handle or through a hole and around an immovable object is often enough to thwart off a would-be thief. I often use this technique when on short trips when the kayak will be out of sight and it works well in remote locations where a thief is unlikely to be carrying the tools necessary to defeat a lock.

Another tip that almost goes without saying is to simply not provide thieves with the opportunity. Simply don't take the kayak anywhere you don't need to. I generally avoid driving around town with my bikes/kayaks on my vehicle if I can. I like to do my shopping before a trip and then load the kayaks just before hitting the road. I know that they are much safer when locked in my garage then they will ever be sitting atop my vehicle, no matter what kind of cables and straps I attach them with.

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